Shearer: "The Shining still shines."


I really enjoyed Andrew Shearer article The Shining still shines, which is posted HERE.  It is reposted with permission -- thank you.  I totally agree with his statement that watching it on the old worn out film can add to the sense of . . . ah, just read the article. . .

True movie nerds don’t mind taking a road trip when they really want to see a film, but there’s a certain amount of risk involved. I ventured out twice within the past week, beginning this past Sunday to the Mall of Georgia for “Sideways” director Alexander Payne’s latest, “The Descendants” (starring George Clooney). The movie ended up being well worth the trek, but I haven’t always been so lucky. But then there are special occasions when a revival screening takes place, and it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you can’t pass up. I was devastated when I missed “The Shining” when it played the Classic Center last year, so it was imperative I drive to Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre to catch what would be one of the very last times this film would be shown on the big screen.

That doesn’t mean fans never will get to see “The Shining” with an appreciative audience again, but the next time they do, they’ll probably be watching a digital version. According to the managers at the Plaza, Warner Brothers is closing its film vaults next year and no longer will be sending out any 35mm prints from their catalog. Computerized archiving is a great way to preserve movies for future generations to enjoy, and to ensure these films will be available on whatever formats our kids, grandkids and great grandkids decide to watch them. Film stock deteriorates over time and can be damaged whenever it is handled or run through a projector, so it does make sense to try to keep the originals intact before they’re extinct. But anyone who was there for Tuesday’s sold-out screening can attest that some movies are even creepier on a worn-out film print than they ever will be on a clean, sharp digitally projected image.

Released in 1980 and based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, “The Shining” was went largely underappreciated in its day. Back then, the “Friday the 13th” era was just breaking, and no one seemed to really understand the slow burn of madness that master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick had pulled off so well. Now famous for star Jack Nicholson’s high-energy performance as possessed dad Jack Torrance and Shelley Duvall’s baseball-bat swinging, drowned cat-like wail, the film also is a technical marvel. Boasting some of the very first uses of the now-commonplace Steadicam system, “The Shining” features several dizzying sequences in which the camera flies smoothly around the beautifully-constructed Overlook Hotel set, chasing the cast through its corridors and out into the snow-covered maze where the film’s unforgettable climax takes place. It’s easy to feel like you’re going insane right along with good ol’ Jack, a testament to the enduring power this movie has.

There’s a reason why The New York Times recently published an article about a new cult phenomenon for horror on VHS tape, and why it’s hip to digitally add scratches, dirt and distress to high-definition video footage. Does format matter when it comes to watching a film? Most people would say no, and are perfectly content watching a movie on a Kindle or the back of the headrest on a long airline flight. For my money, how you watch a film makes a huge difference, and “The Shining” has never been as frighteningly unsettling as it was at the Plaza on Tuesday. Besides, I liked knowing I was getting the same theatrical experience that people got when the movie first came out.

“The Shining” will be screening one last time at Atlanta’s historic Plaza Theater at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Visit for details.


  1. There's something about "low-quality" that fits hand in glove with horror. Digital is too clean, crisp, and antiseptic. Horror is all about grainy shadows and uncertainty.

  2. Call me crazy, but I kinda prefer to see a movie the way the director intended it to be seen: i.e., WITHOUT scratches, hairs, dirt, dust, missing frames, and discoloration.

  3. I don't think he's saying he'd always like to see it that way. . . but once in a while it adds to the creep show.

  4. I saw "The Shining" in a theatre once. It was a badly beat-up 35mm print, and I didn't feel like it added to my enjoyment in any way at all. However, when I saw the Blu-ray on a friend's HDTV, I felt like I was seeing the movie with fresh eyes. I can only imagine what a digital print would look like on a big screen, but I imagine that it looks awfully good.

    I understand the point, though.

    Anyone who wants to see purposeful degrading done correctly should watch Rodriguez/Tarantino's "Grindhouse," which is a masterpiece. A pair of them, actually.